Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem in August 2016 prior to a preseason game reopened a national conversation about public performances...

Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem in August 2016 prior to a preseason game reopened a national conversation about public performances of patriotism. What does a national anthem do to promote unity in a nation with a long running history of racial slavery, lynching, and segregation? Imani Perry answers this question in her recent book May We Forever Stand: A History of the Black National Anthem (University of North Carolina Press, 2018). Through her history of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” Perry powerfully shows how and why throughout the Black liberation struggles in the twentieth and twenty-first century, Black Americans adopted the song as the “Black National Anthem.”


Adam McNeil is a soon-to-be Ph.D. in History and Colored Conventions Project Fellow at the University of Delaware. He can be reached on Twitter @CulturedModesty.

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